Chapter 1 - Shock
In which our hero receives a visit from Arthur Weasley who has a surprising message for him. It seems that Harry's past might not have been quite the past he either remembered or had been told about and his parents not the good people he had thought them to be,
I think that I'm pretty safe in saying that my life has contained more surprises than that of the average person, but the one I received just three days after my 20th birthday was up there amongst the most shocking. I'd been experiencing severe and persistent headaches for several days running so that may have been why I found it so difficult at first to fully comprehend what Arthur Weasley told me, but he himself seemed very confused about it all, so perhaps it was no wonder that he totally confused me.
Everyone, well, everyone in our world at least, knows that both my parents were killed by Voldemort when I was still only a toddler, so when Arthur Floo called me and asked if he could come through as he had something to tell me, the last thing I expected was that what he'd tell me was that my father had been alive until about a fortnight ago.
"What? You're joking! ...No, you're not... I can see you're not!"
"Err, yes Harry. Bit of a shock I know."
"Bit of a shock? A bit of a shock? What is this? If he was alive then where in Hades was he? Why now? Why only tell me now?"
"We couldn't tell you because we didn't know either. The only people who knew were Albus and Snape, and I think Albus told Severus not to tell you...or maybe not, anyway, for some reason Severus couldn't tell you until your father died, and then when James did die and he had to come to you he..."
"Why the heck not? Why would Dumbledore tell him not to tell me? Had to come to me? Who? Do you mean Snape? Why didn't he tell me until it was too late because Voldemort had killed him—killed Snape I mean.
Yes, he would have to, Severus would have to come to you because …er, well, I'll explain that in a minute. As the Headmaster is dead now I don't know why he did what he did, at least I'm not certain and we can't ask him...though, it's just occurred to me, you could ask his portrait, he'd probably know ...but anyway when Professor Snape died when you killed You-Know-Who... Sorry, I mean Severus didn't die, he wasn't really dead, I mean it was just that we all thought he was dead, and…"
"Snape survived?" Snape was alive too? What the...? Merlin's hairy balls! Snape alive too? We had looked for him for ages when his body disappeared, and my Dad …
"Where was my Dad all this time? Was he a prisoner somewhere? Cripes, we might have been able to rescue him. Bloody Dumbledore and that git Snape… what the Hell were they thinking?"
"Yes Snape's alive." He held up a hand to forestall my questions. "But as far as him being able to tell anyone about James was concerned, he might as well have been dead as he didn't get his memory back until just last week, last Thursday actually… so, before Severus died, nearly died that is, except for him and Dumbledore, no-one knew your Dad was alive, and for some reason Severus couldn't tell you while your father still lived…" Arthur trailed off. "I don't really understand why… it does seem strange, perhaps Albus, or your father earlier, had told him not to tell you, Albus may have thought it not good for you to know."
"Not good for me to know! What the!… who the Hell has more right to know about my own father than I have I'd like to know!"
"Sit down Harry. Sit down. Please, please calm down and let me explain . . . we're getting covered in glass from the windows!"
I looked around; there was shattered glass everywhere. "Oh, er, sorry." I pulled back my roiling magic, restored the windows, and slumped down into an armchair that Arthur had pushed towards me. I tried to calm myself by taking a few deep breaths but it didn't make much difference.
"Go on then… explain. What happened to my Dad? Why isn't Snape himself here to tell me all this if he isn't dead, and for that matter why not tell me before, all those years before he nearly died I mean? Where the fuck was my poor father all these years anyway?"
"To explain it all I have to start right back at the beginning. Some of it Severus has just told me and some I already knew or half suspected."
He ignored my exasperated muttering and continued, "Severus says Albus thought that when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named went to Godric's Hollow to kill you, some hex or curse, probably an AK that he aimed at your father, must have missed him and hit something heavy, probably a beam in the ceiling, which came down on James, and so then Voldie thought your father was dead because he'd Avada'd him … He might have been dodging one of your Dad's curses when he threw it and so his aim was way off as it obviously didn't hit James as he wasn't dead…"
At my deepening frown he hurried to continue. "Anyway, whatever happened, He-Who-Must ...er, sorry, Voldemort, must have thought James was dead, that he'd killed him. Well, Severus told me that Dumbledore thought the same thing at first, but when the Headmaster contacted the Aurors about funeral arrangements they told him that your father's body had disappeared from the house at Godric's Hollow. Then Snape told him James was still alive…"
"How did Snape know that?"
"Er, well that is... I'm getting to that; I'll explain in a minute. Okay?"
"Just get on with it Arthur; all you are doing so far is totally confusing me."
"So then Snape led him to James…"
"How did Snape know where Dad was? ..."
"No, no, I'm coming to that too; please stop interrupting for a minute and just let me explain… Where was I? Oh yes, well, they found James in the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest, staggering around and hexing trees and anything that moved. About a tenth of the top of his head was missing, how on Earth he was still alive with an injury like that… his magic must have been keeping him going… and, well, he… he was obviously insane; violently insane. The Healers did what they could for him but it was impossible to cure him. It seems it probably wasn't a curse that did it to him but damage to his head from the falling beam, or perhaps a combination of some curse and the beam… When it became obvious that he would always be that way they put him into the criminally insane ward at St Mungo's ..."
I was was rapidly going from exasperated to angry. "Why was I never told? I could've visited him at least! Neville got to visit his parents; why ... "
Arthur interrupted me. "Well you see, he had already been reported as being dead, and Albus thought it was best to let everyone continue to think that, because was not really James any more, he was incurably insane, and he could not recognise anyone either. Snape told me that the Healers didn't expect him to live more than a few days or weeks at the most, if that, so why not let everyone remember him as the man he used to be and not the raving maniac he had become?"
I could understand that, well sort of, but I'd still much rather have known and been able to visit him. Bloody Dumbledore and his secrets!
Arthur was still talking: something about Snape, but I'd been distracted and was rubbing my left palm with my right index finger—rubbing it when I was stressed was a habit I'd had ever since I could remember and some reason it always helped calm me down—and I had missed what Arthur had been saying. "Sorry, I missed that, what did you say?"
"What? Oh yes, of course. I was just saying that the Healers who had tried to cure James were bound by their oaths so they couldn't tell anyone even if they'd wanted to, and I think that Albus may have Obliviated a couple of them to be sure… well, perhaps not—no of course not, Albus wouldn't do that—maybe—anyway, Albus had him registered in St Mungo's under a false name… can't think for the moment what Severus said it was; it might have been … no that wasn't it..." He trailed off, thinking.
I cleared my throat.
"Oh sorry. Don't suppose it matters now what name they gave him. Albus told everyone that they had found James' body in the forest, and then he Transfigured a log as James for the burial. After that, the only people who knew that James was alive and where he was, were Albus and Severus. I don't know why Snape didn't tell you that his…his…er… James was alive, once you came to Hogwarts, or even before that, but perhaps James being alive meant he still had to obey his old orders or perhaps, as I said before, Albus told him not to tell you until your father had died. No... that couldn't be right, I don't think … anyway, whatever the reason for it was, apparently he had no option but to wait, and the thing is, your father didn't die within a few days as they'd expected, he lived for years. He didn't actually die until a couple of weeks ago, and by then Snape had amnesia."
"Why would he do what Dad told him?...As if!... No, there must be some other reason which he hasn't told you...you know what Slytherins are... Still, never mind that for the moment – tell me this: where has Snape been all this time, and why isn't he here to tell me himself, now his memory has returned? ...Though, come to think of it, why tell me at all if Dad was already dead when Snape regained his memories? Kinder to let me continue to think… but Snape never did do kind did he? Though I suppose he was a bit nicer to me than to anyone else and he did save my life a few times. Merlin, he'll be wanting to collect on my Life Debts now."
"He had to tell you, you see…"
"Had to? Huh. Don't give me that. First he couldn't tell me for some strange reason and now it's all changed around and he has to tell me? None of this makes sense. Anyway, if he has to tell me, why tell you first and then get you to tell me?"
He is coming to see you Harry, but he thought it best if I prepared you for it first, because, er, well, it's all a bit awkward… might be bit embarrassing too I suppose, especially as you may not..."
He saw from my glare that I was becoming even more impatient and so he hurried on. "You know how after the final battle, when they went to get Severus' body from the Shrieking Shack, the body wasn't there? Well, he must have come-to, dosed himself with anti-venom and then tried to Apparate to… to somewhere, perhaps to Grimauld Place or Hogwarts, but as he was still groggy as he was really ill, it went wrong and instead he somehow sent himself to the verge of a road just outside Hastings, where he lost consciousness, and when he woke up again he found that he was in a hospital bed and he couldn't remember anything at all, not only about what had just happened, but anything, not even his own name.
They told him a lady had phoned for an ambulance when she found him lying, bleeding, beside the road. They thought he must have been mugged, but could not explain the strange wound on his neck and certainly did not realise it was due to a snake bite. As it was a Muggle hospital no-one had any idea who he might be, and there were no reports of a missing person who resembled him at all.
Well, after being there for a month or two he recovered his physical health, well most of it, but not his memory; he still had total amnesia. When he was discharged they put him in something called a . . . oh I forget what he said it was called. I don't understand what the place was exactly but Severus says it was just somewhere for people like him to live after being in hospital and if they had no home, but then later on he got himself a flat. He didn't even know he was a wizard! Can you imagine that?"
Arthur paused, apparently overcome by the idea of thinking one's self a Muggle. Then another thought occurred to him and he smiled. "But think of all the Muggle things he must know about now! Will you let me see the flat he had Harry? It probably has all sorts of electrickery things in it!" He beamed at me.
Not for the first time, I wished that I was being told this by someone not so muddle-headed and muggle-headed, long winded and easily distracted. As for 'electrickery', I had always thought mispronouncing such words must be an affectation, because why should pure-bloods, who could reel off long Latin spells without any errors at all, not remember simple ordinary English words correctly? It always annoyed me.
"You'll have to ask him about his flat yourself, it's got nothing to do with me, and it's 'electricity', as I'm sure you know very well Arthur."
Arthur looked confused for a moment. "But I have… oh I see, yes, you don't know yet, well…"
"He'd lost his memory," I prompted, trying not to let my exasperation show, "and obviously he has it back now. Do go on."
"Yes, he got it back last Thursday like I said, but before that, for nearly two weeks previous to his getting his memory back, since the day your father finally died in fact, he'd been having nightmares; he was having lots of different nightmares but they were always basically about the same thing: there was something he was supposed to do, absolutely must do, should have done already in fact, but had not yet done.
"He'd been working as an assistant in a second hand book shop, a Muggle bookshop, and then last week he happened to be sorting through a box of books someone had brought in, and on the cover of one of them was a picture of a boy holding a wand. It fascinated him. For the rest of the day he couldn't get it out of his head, and, on an impulse he couldn't really explain to himself, when he got back to his flat he went to his wardrobe and got out the box of his belongings the hospital had given him when he was discharged but which he had never looked into properly as it had seemed to contain only rather peculiar old clothes. When he'd looked before, they had seemed strange clothes, strange clothes that made him feel, well, odd and uncomfortable, so he'd shut the box up again, thrust it to the back of the wardrobe and virtually forgotten about it. When he looked this time, in it were the clothes he'd seen before, but below the clothes, wrapped in a cloak, was his wand. When he saw it he passed out and when he regained consciousness his memory had come back, completely back. He then knew what he had to do and so he came to me."
Despite my efforts to be patient, I must have looked very annoyed again, as after glancing at me apprehensively Arthur hurried on. "Your father's death had triggered the nightmares, and it had also released him from the order not to tell you anything."
"But how did he know my father was dead? And why should my father's death do that to him?"
"His magic told him of course. Actually the bond told him. Immediately James died the bond transferred to you."
I felt a sudden dread, an icy stream, a wide one, slithered down and around my spine. "What bond?" I growled suspiciously. "I don't like the sound of this."
Neville had told me once, had warned me very seriously, to be exceedingly careful to not bind myself in a marriage bond accidentally. It was all too easy to do apparently.
"Well, be fair Harry, it's much worse for him."
Arthur, I do not know what the devil you are talking about, at least I bloody well hope I don't! What exactly is this 'bond' thing?"
"There's one between you and Snape, Harry. One of the strongest ones I understand."
I could almost feel the blood draining from my face. "Merlin! It's a marriage bond isn't it?"
He looked a bit embarrassed.
I sprang up "It is isn't it? Merlin! Don't tell me I'm married to the bastard! Only the bloody Wizarding world could…"
I tailed off because Arthur was holding up both his hands in front of him to interrupt me and ward me off too by the look of it.
"No, no Harry," he shouted. "Nothing like that! ... Well, a bit like it I suppose, just as strong, stronger in fact, cannot ever be broken. It's a slavery bond...Harry, Severus is your slave. He was your grandfather's but now your granddad and James are dead, he's your property."
But then I realised. What a gullible fool I'd been! It was completely obvious; poor old Arthur had flipped his lid. This whole thing was something he had dreamed up; it was some strange hallucination he'd had, was still having.
"Arthur," I said slowly and gently, "Slavery is illegal in Britain, apart from house-elves of course, but…"
"In the Muggle world that's true I'm told, but I'm sorry to say that in our world it's still legal. You must at least have heard about some of us having slaves before?. . . No?... Strange. Perhaps you've not come across it because it's no longer very fashionable to keep them, so most people who do have them find it slightly embarrassing and tend to keep it quiet. But it is all perfectly legal, perfectly legal unfortunately."
"Arthur, I'm going to Floo call Molly, I'm sure she will be wondering where you are as it's gone dinner time." I stood up, took him by the arm and made him sit down on the sofa. "Just rest there for a moment."
He sat down and then looked up at me with a small understanding smile. "You think I've gone crazy don't you? How can I convince you?... Perhaps it's best if you do call Molly...but don't ask her to come through please as I haven't told her anything about it; just ask her if there are any human slaves in the Wizarding World."
I was almost starting to believe him again, but to be sure threw some Floo powder into the fireplace and called out "The Burrow."
After a couple of seconds Molly's head appeared. "Oh, hello Harry dear. Do you want to speak to Ginny or one of the boys? I'll call them. Ron's home." She started to turn away.
"No Molly, stay here please. It's you I want to talk to." She could not have seen Arthur from the angle of the fireplace, but I placed myself between them anyway. "Molly, are there any human wizard slaves?"
"Well yes dear, of course there are. Didn't you know? How odd." She laughed, "There have always been rumours about your family owning them, though I never believed it myself; if they had you would know about it, so obviously I was right. They were just nasty rumours, probably started by people jealous of the Potter lineage and wealth, I always thought."
She started to say something else but I interrupted her, "Thanks Molly. I'll talk to you later okay? I'll send Arthur home shortly. Bye." I rudely shut down the connection, groaned, and threw myself back down into the armchair.
It's official: My life sucks.
I owned a slave.
Hermione would murder me.
It was bad enough already: whenever she visited me she couldn't help but glare at me every time she saw Dobby or Winky. I repeatedly tried to explain that they were really just my friends and that the bond between us was what they wanted, what they had virtually insisted on in fact, but I could never quite convince her. Dobby tried to help me out by telling her—well, letting her know in various unsubtle Dobby-ish and embarrassing ways—that he and Winky loved belonging to me. That only made her even more angry that they were so 'brainwashed.'
But I'd have to tell her I supposed. At least she'd be able to throw herself into research on how to set him free; it wasn't like the house-elves who don't want to be free… at least I hoped it wasn't.
"But … but… even if that is all true, not Snape! How could he be a slave? I don't know anyone who's less like a slave."
I'd almost forgotten about Arthur being there, until he started to speak again. "Yes he does have the air of an aristocrat doesn't he? All show I suppose, all show. But to get back on the subject…it'd be best if I explained a little more about slavery in our world, and about his bond in particular, before you send for him I mean. I thought you would already know about slavery at least, but he thought you would not and that I should tell you and prepare you and he was right it seems...These are a couple of books that I found in the Hogwarts library that you might like to read. I haven't read them myself so they may not be much good but they will tell you a bit about it, about wizard slavery in general."
He handed me a couple of dilapidated old books, and then went on talking while I sat there, holding the books in both hands and staring at him blankly, virtually in a state of shock.
Dad had been alive until a week or so was alive now. Snape was my slave... It all was spinning around in my head, particularly the slave part. Perhaps it wasn't my father or even Arthur who were crazy, it was me; I was insane and in St. Mungo's, hallucinating...
Gradually I became aware that Arthur was talking again...and at last managed to pull myself together enough to concentrate on what he was telling me.
"I can tell you a bit about it myself, actually that's what Severus asked me to do... Severus is your property now Harry. Unfortunately the law regards him as no more than a pet dog or even an item of furniture. You have total control over him and he cannot do anything without your permission. Heck, if his bond is like some of them, then he might not even be able to eat or use the bathroom without getting your okay. He has to be absolutely obedient to you, in fact the bond will ensure that he is, even if he doesn't want to be, but he will want to be, to obey you, the bond will make certain of that too.
You need to know that, to be fully aware of it, because the law assumes that no slave can do anything without his master's permission, that means that unless you can prove that he acted without your authority, the law will hold you legally responsible for anything he does. However that's not really as bad for you as it sounds; in fact it's bad for him but not for you, because...well it's stupid, quite illogical, but even though everyone knows that a slave virtually cannot do anything without its master's permission, if you were to testify that he did do whatever it was without your authority, the bond would almost certainly force him to confirm whatever you said, and a judge would be bound to accept that as proof of your version of it."
What? That didn't make any sense at all. Well, that didn't surprise me particularly; wizards generally don't possess an ounce of common sense or logic.
"And Snape told you all this?"
"No, not all of it; we Weasleys, most of us anyway, have been abolitionists for nearly two centuries now, so we have learned more than we ever wanted to know about slavery... Anyway, in most cases," Arthur continued, "unless a slave's testimony supports that of a free wizard, it is almost always disregarded."
He paused. "May I have a glass of water? My throat's dry from all this talking. No, don't get up, I'll get it, you look almost as if you've been hit by a Stunner."
He didn't attempt to Accio a glass of water—that can sometimes be tricky in someone else's house—but instead walked into the kitchen and then came back into the living room holding two glasses of water and handed one of them to me. "Here you are. You look as if you need it."
I sipped it gratefully. "I think what I really need is a shot of Firewiskey to help me get my head around all this. I can't come to terms with… I mean, I thought my parents were good people and now you tell me they were slave owners!"
"They were good people Harry. Don't ever think they were not. I don't know for certain, but it's possible, even probable, that Severus' family had been Potter slaves for generations so your parents had no option but to own him, or it's even possible that your family bought him because his previous owners had been mistreating him or something like that, and so they rescued him; if that were the case it would have cost them a fortune to do it too. Anyway Severus will know, and can tell you all about it."
Arthur walked across the room and leaned against the mantelpiece. He fiddled with a photo of Ron, Hermione and me when we were in sixth form, then ooked at me and then down at the floor. It was obvious there was something else he wanted to say but was finding it even more difficult to come out with than what he had already told me.
"Hit me with it Arthur. Just tell me, whatever it is. I'm already in a state of shock so nothing you can say now will make much difference. At least I hope not, you're not going to tell me I have another half dozen slaves hidden away somewhere are you?"
Arthur's mouth quirked sideways. It wasn't very successful as a smile but I had to give him full marks for trying.
"Harry," he paused and then cleared his throat, "I am finding this awkward, rather embarrassing for some reason... the thing is...if ever Severus does something you don't want him to do, or forgets something you have told him to do, he will expect you to punish him for it and more importantly, the bond will expect you to punish him. The bond will make him feel distressed until you do so. Actually, having been a slave from birth he'll probably have been conditioned to feel that way himself even without the bond's input. He'll feel very distressed and ill, so you will have to punish him or he will be in considerable pain."
At the appalled look on my face he hurried to add; You don't have to use Cruciatus or anything else that painful on him, not unless you want to of course, but you certainly don't have to. Unless they are especially cruel or angry many masters just use a cane or birch or something of that sort rather than use magic. In any case, the Cruatius and even most of the other punishment spells, are far too painful for frequent use without damage to the slave. You can do whatever you like to him of course, in fact you could kill him and no-one could do anything about it, not legally at least – but we Weasleys and your other friends would certainly make your life a misery." He attempted a small laugh.
The thought of having to explain any of this, let alone all of it, to Hermione was putting a knot in my gut.
"If you think Hermione won't make my life absolute hell if I so much as pull out one of his nose hairs, you've got another think coming," I groaned. "You need not go on, I think I've got the gist of it, unfortunately... Tell Snape, no, sorry, ask him, to come here tomorrow evening… and meanwhile I'll try to get my head around all this and start reading the books too I guess."
"But Harry, there's a lot more I should explain. For instance, he probably would have been receiving an allowance while teaching at Hogwarts. His salary would have gone into one of your vaults of course, and the estate would have paid him a small allowance from it for expenses; you will now have to decide if he still gets the allowance, how much it is to be, where he is to work, if he can have a wand and…"
"Severus can explain it all to me himself I imagine."
Arthur looked dubious; "Well, if you are sure, but if there's anything he says he can't explain to you or you are too embarrassed to ask him, then please Fire-call me. Oh, and I think one of the reasons Severus wanted me to explain ahead about the slavery thing was that he knows it doesn't exist in Muggle Britain and so you might find the whole thing rather upsetting and embarrassing if he was telling you about it himself... He's worried too of course about what sort of master you'll be, not that he told me that, but I'm sure he must be."
"So he should be worried after the way he treated us at school! .. Oh don't worry, don't look like that. I'm not serious; he was always pretty nice to me. Well, not really, but compared to how he was with other people he was. I always wondered why; huh, I certainly know why now, don't I? He saved my life quite a few times too. Tell him I owe him a few too many life debts to take advantage of the situation … tell him I'll be nice to him."
"I'll tell him that Harry. However don't forget you will have to punish him from time to time, and I think that the bond might make you rather more inclined to… well... Severus and the books will no doubt explain…please make sure you read as much as you can of those two books this evening and then you'll understand a little more. Severus tells me that there are many other books on the subject, better ones too, but he had none and those two are all I could find at short notice."
Arthur walked over to the fire, "I'll leave you now; you could probably do with a few hours of privacy to think about everything. I'll tell him he's to present himself to you tomorrow evening." He tossed a handful of Floo Powder into the fireplace, stepped into the green flames and disappeared.
I paced around the room for a while, my mind churning with questions and getting nowhere. After a while I grabbed the books and sank back down into the armchair.
One of them was 'Flaverie Bondf Mofte Delitefulle' and the other was a far newer-looking and more recently published volume called 'The Slave Owner's Practical Handbook and Guide.'
I opened the older book gingerly as it looked as if it might crumble with anything but extremely careful handling. It had been artistically hand written and illustrated. I could appreciate the great beauty of it, despite the fact that it was faded and some parts had been completely worn away. It had been a popular and frequent reference book I imagine and that showed. Also the spelling, phasing and script were archaic, which all made it difficult to read. It seemed to be an encyclopaedia of slavery bond spells, and the spells were all carefully explained; how to cast them, what potions were needed if any, and what results could be expected.
The introduction stated that it was for wizards who wanted to find and cast a slave-bond spell, the results of which would suit them best, or at least that's what I interpreted it to mean.
At some date which was far more recent than the writing of the book itself, some previous reader had left copious notes in the margins and sometimes even right across the pages themselves. Apparently the margin-scribbling
book-defacer had not been greatly impressed by most of the spells; 'Useless, far too weak,' was a favourite comment on many of them. In fact most of them failed to meet his rigorous standard, which was, evidently, to result in a slave who was totally submissive and obedient however he was treated. 'Useless!' and 'Rubbish!' were scratched angrily right across them. On one he had written: 'No use at all! Father's old slave Micausa was under this one and I sometimes had to remind her to prostrate herself when she saw me!'
However there were one or two of them that had warranted his hard-won approval, and he had waxed enthusiastic about one of them in particular. On the margin of that one—one that promised the ultimate in utter submission, love, fear, loyalty and diligence from the slave—he had written. 'I highly recommend this spell-bond. My pretty Amil that I bought from Malfoie is bound by it, and I frequently whip him severely or use the Cruciatus on him for several seconds at a time without it reducing his adoration of me in the slightest degree. On the contrary, over time it has enhanced it. I now merely have to glance at him to make him tremble and his funny little cock to stand and leak. Excellent!
'Malfoie tells me that with a slight change in the invocation he has used this spell on his wives and female children to ensure their absolute obedience – I must remind him to write the adjustment down for me. Another advantage is that when used for slave breeding it can be cast at the very moment of conception, and, used thus it produces absolute submission without much need for any further training. I shall use this one exclusively from now on.'
Luckily I don't think anyone could ever use that particular spell again, not using this book as the sole reference at least, as many of the words were totally illegible. But I still felt ill. After struggling on to read a few more of the spells and his notes, I came across another which promised to change wayward wives into the most submissive and slavishly obedient of thralls. I closed the book and, ridiculously, shoved it under a cushion with the almost panicked thought that I'd better find somewhere safe for it where Hermione couldn't find it.
After a visit to the loo to throw up and then coming back and sitting staring into space for about fifteen minutes, I felt up to looking at the second book.
It had been printed far more recently; the date of the first edition was printed on the flyleaf as 1842 and it had been reprinted several times since then: the most recent being 1923 when it had also been updated. Some of the chapter headings were: 'The Question of Slave Rights' (there weren't any, it was a short chapter that seemed to consist of a summary of all the rights that slaves did not have) 'Rights of the Master' (which might as well have been titled 'the master has the right to do anything he bloody well pleases') 'Duties of the Slave,' 'Laws Governing Slaves,' 'Punishment and Discipline,' 'Selling and Buying,' 'Slave Creation,' 'Slave Breeding,' and 'Keeping Your Slaves Healthy and Productive.'
I started to read the chapter headed 'Laws Governing Slaves,' thinking that it might tell me what laws there were to protect slaves from cruel masters. Colour me naïve. There were no laws for slave protection, at least, none were mentioned in the book; it was all about the laws that regulated slave behaviour both in private and in public. There were dozens of laws and most of them were Draconian. For example: one stated that slave tattoos were compulsory and that a slave must never hide its tattoo under a glamour, a cloak, long sleeves or gloves, and then went on to detail the public and revoltingly inhumane punishments provided for any slave that broke that law – with 'delightful' illustrations of several such penalties.
Actually, given that all the laws had been formulated with the owners' benefit in mind, the existence of that particular law puzzled me. Presumably its intention was to prevent slaves pretending to be free wizards, as I'm sure most of them would love to do, but such a law would not always suit a master who wanted his slave to do something for him while not been seen as a slave, for example to spy for him, neither would it suit anyone who did not wish it known that he owned a slave or slaves. Come to think of it, I couldn't remember ever seeing any tattoo on Severus' hands or arms, perhaps there was one on his neck instead. I'll have to ask him about it, I certainly do not fancy the whole world knowing, and I bet he wouldn't like that either.
Apparently the revolutionary idea that a slave might need and be entitled to some protection from its owner had occurred neither to the author nor to the Wizengamot itself. On the contrary: the book stated that anyone found guilty of trying to protect a slave from its master's actions, even in a minor way, was guilty of breaching the master's rights and would be subject to a minimum of a se'nnight in Azkaban and a heavy fine. I guessed there was no R.S.P.C.S. to protect them either.
With the possible exception of the chapter on keeping one's slaves healthy and productive—which in any case was for the owner's benefit—nowhere in the entire book was there even a hint of concern for any slave's welfare or happiness. Strangely, what I found almost as disturbing, was that whenever a slave was referred to, even when the reference was to actual cases where the slave or slaves possessed traditionally gender specific names, the pronouns used were never 'he' or 'she', but were always 'it.' Yes, probably it was just easier than writing he or she, or perhaps the writer himself genuinely thought of slaves as things, but somehow I felt that it was part of a deliberate attempt to de-humanise slaves in the reader's mind and make any slave into an 'it', a mere thing, a possession, a chattel, an object.
As stated in its introduction, the main purpose of the book was to show the master how he could get the most work, monetary benefit, satisfaction and pleasure from owning a slave or slaves. In many ways it reminded me of a book Hagrid had owned; 'Dragon Owning and Breeding for Fun and Profit'—but lacking that book's fondness for the subjects.